tv President Grants World Tour CSPAN May 27, 2018 3:35pm-3:55pm EDT
@cspanhistory for the latest schedule and to keep up with history news. waslysses s. grant president from 1869 to 1877. betookerving two terms, a world tour with his family. american history tv was at the organization of american historians' annual meeting in sacramento, california, where we spoke with ryan semmes about grant's travels. this is about 20 minutes. mes is anan sem associate professor of your you on subject that a lot of people may not know a lot about, the post-presidency of ulysses s. grant. why? semmes: i had worked
generally on ulysses s. grant's presidency, and one of the interesting things about his post-presidency as he took a trip around the world. world tour is pretty common in the 19th century, but grant is the first american president or former president to travel the world. europeers had gone to after the presidency, but grant truly traveled the world. because not only around europe, but also run asia, the caribbean, mexico, and all across the united states in a three-year period after the presidency. steve: including a visit from london, i visit from the queen, what was that significant? it was significant to meet with the queen because other countries of europe looks to queen victoria. there was an interesting anecdote that prior to his visit, a united states manager and his counterpart in great
britain were discussing how should the queen receive him, should he just considered a private citizen? one argued no, he should be treated as a head of state or his counterpart in great britain said no, he is is a private citizen, that's how your country works. he is not an ax ruler. ex-ruler. derby,t says to lord you treated napoleon this way, you should treat friends the same way, and are recessed once says once an emperor, always an emperor, and pierpont says once a president are the united states, always a president of the united states. this is the first time that had happened. once victoria did that, the rest of the world that, looking at the way queen victoria treated him. steve: how do we know about that meeting? how was the queen? ,rof. semmes: they had a dinner
grant and his wife were there, in their youngest son, jesse, was there as well, but he was not invited to dinner with the queen. he was supposed to have dinner with the house ladies. point to some sources, mrs. -- according to some sources, mrs. grant is upset or she thinks the staff means staff, but it means lower oils. presses to invite him to dinner. victoria writes in her diary that he was "an agreeable american in that american way," and i'm not quite sure what she means by that, but she came to enjoy dinner with him, but she did not have a high , becausef frank's wife of the way she noted on jesse. lord derby, who had set up the meeting, refer to grant of
having the intelligence and the manners of a bulldog. he was less than impressed with ulysses s. grant. steve: they meet at appomattox, the civil war comes to end, he ran in 1868 against whom? the rant in 1868 against -- oh, gosh, now you are stopping me. against horace greeley, the newspaperman who died quite quickly. he gave everything he had to the election and then died. but grant's presidency is something i think that is being re-examined. there is an calhoun oncharles ulysses s. grant, and we are looking at grant's, and what has often been seen over the last year and a half as a failure of
the presidency. we are seeing as it actually successful. he actually fought for the rights of african-americans. president.il rights for many historians in the late 19th century and 20th century, that is not seen as a positive thing. now we understand that grants presidency is actually revolutionary, and in terms of foreign policy, grant is really putting the united states out there on the world stage as the president. embodiment of the american policy because he traveled the world and represents the united states to the rest of the world. steve: what was his political standing like in 1877 when he left the white house? prof. semmes: in 1877, he had been dogged by some scandals in his presidency. i think he was ready to get out. there was a lot of talk that he was trying to run for a third term prior to leaving, which was not against the law at the time but was just something that was
seen that a president does not do. so grant left after those two turns. rutherford b. hayes comes in. says he will only serve one term, and when grant is on his world tour company he began thinking of a third term. again, it is not against the law. there was a report of his world tour going back to the united states, writing reports that grant's friends in the republican party were deciding well, we need to have another republican as president, why not grant? grinnell has the experience of meeting with world leaders, seeing what is happening on the world stage. brent would be a wonderful republican nominee. hise he is on the tour, friends are working in the united states to secure a nomination for him in 1880. he gets back to the united states, gets back to illinois inside for the republican convention. the actually leads the nominating ballot for the entire
convention, but on the 35th ballot, he loses to james garfield, and james garfield is subsequently elected president of the united states, and of course james garfield is shot and later dies from his assassination during his presidency, while grant is living a private life at that time. steve: why did he live to garfield, do you know? prof. semmes: it was difficult for him to get enough support outside of his core group of republican supporters. he loses support of people in pennsylvania. he loses support of ohio. weresively, the ohioans supporting sherman. garfield gives up and give a speech to support john sherman. the speech he gives the convincing is actually -- convention is likely for john sherman, but it is such a good speech, and everybody besides you know what, if we're going to
support someone from ohio, maybe we should work james garfield, because they reportedly liked him better than sherman. from of ohio support goes sherman to garfield, the pennsylvania support goes from , andan to garfield as well grants keeps a core group of supporters. they actually have a name, the stalwart republicans who stick with grant, and he never loses their votes. he just is not quite get the amount that he needs. the next thing you know, james garfield has got the support and he wins the nomination. steve: i am curious -- what was the relationship like between rutherford b. hayes and now former president grant? prof. semmes: they got along fine, i suppose. when grant is on his tour, he is during the hayes administration. hayes actually supports them on gives him the support
of the state department, and particularly when he goes east, and set of using private ships and private trains, he is traveling on american naval ships. grant ise same time, being asked about things that are happening in the united states, particularly if there is a railroad strike that occurs during hayes' administration, and hayes calls the troops against the strikers, grant is very critical of the. he is also critical of some of the legislation that hayes is working on congress on, particularly the chinese exclusion act. believes that chinese workers were important to coming to the united states, particularly in building a railroads and building of the economy in the west. china, he is in starts realizing that american economic interests were probably going to start shifting to asia, between japan and china. grant did not see that there was roadblocksto create between the economic growth to china by passing legislation that was specifically --
ostensibly racist legislation and legislation that would undercut american development and american trade with china. inve: how was america viewed the 1870's in europe, and what was happening in terms of dress rotation that allowed president grant to travel as extensively as he did? prof. semmes: even during his transportation is phenomenally better. during this presidency, wherever grant is troubling, there are telegraph lines, and he can get there quickly. the same is happening in europe during he is traveling all over europe by train or by ship, and they are able to get wherever they need to go in europe rather quickly. europeds is all around into europe, back into candidate via. that the -- into scandinavia. i think the united states is seen as a formidable power.
during his presidency, there were at least two incidents where the analysis was on the brink of war between two powers, great britain and spain, and grant was able to find solutions to disputes that they had. by the time grant gets to europe and why so many leaders want to see him and meet with him as they understand the u.s. is becoming a strong economic hour, and it is going to become a world power at some point. with greg, learning more about the united states, learning about his stance on economic issues is seen as something as important not only in europe but also across asia and latin america. steve: you touched on this earlier, but i'm trying to a sense of what the strip was like, because was it something that was very public? did he want to go as a private world, and towards the and how was he receiving great britain? tof. semmes: the wanted it be a leisurely trip. he starts out saying maybe i will be gone a year, the family
and i are going to take a vacation, is what it is, but the moment he steps off the boat in liverpool, huge crowds of people come to meet him, working-class people as well, and they had huge signs welcoming the "man who saved the union," so he is very much so the most famous american at this time, so it quickly becomes not a leisurely trip. he is still able to go to the museum's mbr is that he wants to, but it very quickly becomes the responsibility grants to not only meet with the people of countries, big groups of citizens of these countries, but also to meet with the elite, meet with the powerful people. it becomes a diplomatic mission where grant is not only meeting with the citizens of the nations of the world also meeting with the political and religious leaders of the world.
away, a new pope is elected, and grant is one of the first americans to meet with the pope. as a methodist, he is a chuckle out of after his wife will not pass up any opportunity. but he is going around the world, meeting with all of these people, meeting with regular , laborers, but also heads of state and leading diplomats. along the way, he gets the idea that maybe a third term as president is not a bad idea. steve: and significant because he never traveled outside the u.s. during his presidency? o, he did not n purely troubled robbie u.s. during his presidency, but he never left the u.s. during his presidency. until woodrowe wilson the president leaves the u.s. during his presidency, but also obviously had teddy roosevelt traveled all
over the world prior to his presidency and afterwards, but it is significant that he is the first american president, former, that any of the people around the world had ever met with. you take onid he this project? prof. semmes: i became interested in the legacy of his presidency. i was focused on his presidency and how he presents the united , but ito the world really thought it was an interesting thing that a lot of much did not know about it, but if they did know about it, they thought it was a leisurely trip, but it is more than that. where the papers at mississippi state university? papers of ulysses s. grant for many years were at carbondale, and after that, they were run by a man named john mike simon. inunfortunately passed away to the maid, and they looked for a new executive editor of the grant the first project.
a longtime member of the faculty at mississippi state university, the project came to mississippi state for through the work of john and others, so we can continue john mike simon's legacy. my colleagues just finished publishing the first scholarly memoirs,f grant's which he wrote in his last days as he was dying of cancer, published by harvard university page come and this is a 1000-page version of his memoirs, that contains footnotes that kind of explain and give you context of everything grant was talking about. steve: we should point out somebody turned up the light --tch here at the american organization of american historians. what did he die of? prof. semmes: grant reportedly smoked over 30 cigars a day. steve: 30!
prof. semmes: he used to smoke a pipe, but during the civil war, a newspaper reporter made a comment about grant holding a cigar in victory, and the next thing you know, people were sending boxes of cigars to him. he tried giving them away, but he switched from the pipe to cigar, and importantly, we know now that tobacco is addictive and tobacco can cause cancer, and he did -- he was diagnosed with throat and mouth clients cancer. at present ongoing you lost all of his money and what we would now call it on secam -- a ponzi scam. stoleand ward basically money from grant, money from his friends, and when grant realized that the man had taken all of his money, he only had about $100 to his name, so he started to write his memoirs. he started writing articles for "century" magazine, and then a good friend of his, a man by the
name of mark twain, probably the other most famous american at the time, went to grant and said do not write for this magazine. i have a publishing house. i will publish volumes of your memoir, and we will sell them by prescription, and you will get -- subscription, and you will get a percentage. he has a lot of help from his son, former colleagues of his from the war. he gets through it, and by the summer of 1885, he feels like he is finished writing the memoirs. by this point, he cannot talk anymore. he can only communicate by writing on small slips of paper. he looks in the sun and says i am finished, and about a week later, he died. he is atan semmes, mississippi state university, thank you so much for being with us. prof. semmes: thank you for having me. americann c-span3's
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